campaign to watch: no crockpots, just water.

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campaign: Alex and Kristin’s wedding (#2!)
end date: June 7
campaign leaders: Alex and Kristin
campaign mission statement:
Our first campaign was such a great success (more than $6,000!) — we were able to raise enough money to fund an entire well, plus part of another. However, the campaign came to an end just shy of our actual wedding date. For those of you who still wish to donate to this exciting water well project, here’s your chance. Again, thank you so much for all of your love, not only towards us, but to people less fortunate in this world.

couple with frame

New dishes? A microwave? A crockpot? Not for Alex and Kristin’s wedding.

Instead of registering for the typical wedding gifts, the couple asked their friends and family to help them fund a water project. They ended up raising more than a enough for a well even weeks before the date.

Now, they’re on their second campaign and their second well.

We talked to the newlyweds to see why they turned a day meant for them into a whole campaign to help hundreds.

You basically said, “No wedding gifts for us!” Was that a hard decision?
We’d been talking about it awhile — we’re both over 30, we didn’t need a new toaster oven… we didn’t want or need a thing. It was really easy to ask people to give to the well. We’re big travelers so people expected something like that. And it was exciting, we would check on the site every few days. We loved to see everyone coming together.
couple in line

Did you have any trouble explaining to people that you absolutely didn’t want gifts?
(Kristin) I didn’t worry about it — I was no bridezilla. Well, maybe once, but it lasted for about two minutes, then it was done. Ha!

(Alex) We really maintained the focus of, “this is our wedding ceremony, it’s about us,” and this is what we wanted. Some people still got us gifts anyway… if people gave us cash, we just took that and put it towards the well.

“At first, they don’t believe you. They really think you’re going to register at Crate and Barrel and ask for 100 wine glasses. But we have chipped plates and glasses at home, and those work fine.”

What was the wedding like?
We’re big travelers, both of us. We went to Costa Rica on our fourth date. So we had an international-themed wedding. It was so much fun! We had African dance troop with percussion and four or five dancers. We had a Mariachi band, an Irish band and Irish dancing, all local acts. We also had food from around the world and a Mojito bar.

couple with frame
couple with frame
couple with frame

Did your successful campaign impact the feeling at the wedding?
All the people that had given were right there and you could just feel the love. It was really special.

It was definitely cool to have that accomplishment, to say, “Hey, we did it! You were all apart of this.” It brought the whole worldly theme of the wedding together. And there was a bigger sense of community; whether they knew each other or not, they came together to fund this well. Not only was this day about us, but it was about love for the world and helping others — and that attitude is only going to help us more in our relationship.

Did the cause stand out to any wedding guests in particular?
I had a friend whose church was building a well in Zambia and they’d been talking about the water crisis for awhile. When we gave out the invitations, she was blown away by that and really impressed. She gave to the campaign.

couple with frame

Were you surprised when you surpassed your first $5,000 goal before the wedding?
Yes. About 110 people that attended the wedding and almost everyone gave. We had a couple of big donors that put us over the top — and then people just kept giving after that, they didn’t look at $5,000 as a limit.

We sent out the invitations in December, so we knew that the three-month limit (of mycharity: water campaigns) wouldn’t last all the way to the wedding. We started up another one to extend through the wedding, which was April 10.

What was your first connection with the water crisis?
(Kristin) It was the whole reason I got involved with charity: water. Last summer, I traveled to Ethiopia and I saw all these people walking for miles and miles with yellow jugs [Jerry cans]. There was no running water in the operating rooms. And we vowed when we left that we were going to do something. Three friends and I funded a well with charity: water last fall. So I knew about charity: water when Alex and I talked about what we would do for our wedding.

Did your guests know about the water crisis or were they surprised when you first told them what you wanted?
I knew about it, but until I saw it first-hand in Ethiopia, where we didn’t have safe water, it was easy to shut my eyes and pretend it’s not happening. I think mostly everyone we invited to the wedding knew people didn’t have water everywhere. But now they’re more educated about it.

couple with frame

What did you do to first spread the word about your campaign?

Basically, we just sent out invitations. Then we sent out a reminder emails.

For a long time we didn’t think we’d hit $5,000. We sent out a note encouraging people that the campaign was shutting off in a couple weeks, and if they intended to get a gift, that was their option. It worked — people remembered and pushed it over the edge.

Is that it, now that the wedding is over?
No, it’s still going — and money is still trickling in. Someone just sent us money for a one-month anniversary. There’s less than a month left and we’re going to push until the end. It’d be really cool to reach another $5,000. We’re almost to the $10,000 mark total. It’s going to be really neat sending out a final email — to say, this is what happens when a group of people come together, they can change the world.

And the donating to charity: water hasn’t been just with our wedding. I sent out e-cards for Mother’s Day. My mom got all teary-eyed — she got so many flowers, but they’re all going to die. This is something that’s going to last. So she’ll continue to give to the organization, too. For our friends and family, it started with our wedding but it’s not going to end there.

couple with frame

What’s your advice to others giving up their wedding for clean water projects?
Don’t hesitate to ask. You don’t have to feel bad for asking for money for an organization like charity: water. Email reminders are huge. We stalled at $2,000, then sent out reminders… and that’s how we raised about $7,000 more!

Don’t hesitate to open a second campaign as it gets closer to your wedding date. You focus on that first well and if you do or don’t make it — don’t stop and say “that’s it.” There’s more time, people procrastinate. So open a second campaign, open a third… keep collecting money if you can.

Also, put the campaign site right on the invitation. Our invitations were sent via email so guests could click on it.

The same thing with bridal showers — you can have your girlfriends donate to the campaign, just put the site on the bridal shower invitations. You have to tell people over and over: you really, really want a water well. They don’t believe you, they really think you’re going to register at Crate and Barrel and ask for 100 wine glasses. But we have chipped plates and glasses at home, and those work fine.

I have to ask the typical question… how did you two meet?
Online — eHarmony! We met Nov. 2008 and got engaged one day short of a year later. It’s been a whirlwind!

Bike, swim, run, dance — you can do anything to raise money for water projects. Learn more here.

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